Two senior Iraqi generals are being questioned in connection with last week’s attack in Karbala that left five U.S. soldiers dead, Pentagon officials told FOX News Thursday.
Military officials also said the level of sophistication of the attack — where militants posed as U.S. soldiers to pass a number of security checkpoints — suggested possible Iranian involvement.
The assault was carried out by nine to 12 militants wearing new U.S. military fatigues and traveling in black GMC Suburban vehicles — the type used by U.S. government convoys. U.S. officials said the imposters had American weapons and spoke English.
The raid, as explained by Iraqi and American officials, began after nightfall at about 6 p.m. on Jan. 20, while American military officers were meeting with their Iraqi counterparts on the main floor of the Provisional Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) in Karbala.
The Pentagon said the investigation into the attack is ongoing and several Iraqis have been detained for questioning.
Because high-level generals were possibly involved, the Pentagon said, it raises questions about the loyalty and trustworthiness of Iraqi military officers at the highest levels.
The bodies of four of the five U.S. soldiers killed in the attack were found later miles away from the compound suggesting they may have briefly been kidnapped before the died.
The military said two of the soldiers were handcuffed together in the back seat of an SUV near the southern Iraqi town of Mahawil. A third dead soldier was on the ground nearby and a fourth died en route to the hospital.
“The precision of the attack, the equipment used and the possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles in the compound suggests that the attack was well rehearsed prior to execution,” said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for Multi-National Division-Baghdad.
“The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound,” he said. “We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault.”
Pvt. Johnathon M. Millican, 1st Lt. Jacob Fritz, Capt. Brian S. Freeman, Pfc. Shawn P. Falter and Spc. Johnathan Bryan Chism died in the attack.